SABMiller has said it is hopeful of getting beer sales in India back on track by solving a legal dispute in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

SABMiller saw beer sales by volume slip 21% in India in the six months to the end of September, compared to the same period last year.

The fall, contained in the brewer's half-year results announcement yesterday (19 November), has seen the firm lose market share to its main rival in India, United Breweries. There has also been internal disruption with the announced departure of India MD Jean-Marc Delpon de Vaux.

Key to SABMiller's difficulties in India has been a legal dispute in Andhra Pradesh, which alone accounts for a third of the company's national beer sales by volume.

SABMiller CEO Graham Mackay told just-drinks in a media call yesterday (19 November) that the situation in India is "improving all the time".

He declined to put a timescale on the resolution of legal issues in Andhra Pradesh, but said the brewer expects operations to "return to normal" by the end of its current financial year, to the end of March.

SABMiller, as well as United Breweries, last year accused the state purchasing body, Andhra Pradesh Beverage Corporation, of failing to pass down the proceeds from consumer price increases on beer. SABMiller subsequently withheld supplies from the state.